Saturday, September 09, 2006


After attending a comic book convention and watching some episodes of Stargate SG-1, I realized how much in many areas of our culture we are taught to be a maverick. George Washington and the rest of the founding fathers were revolutionaries. Many of our popular fictional heroes from Jack Bauer in 24 to James Bond, to Captain Kirk and Picard are break the rules people when they know the rule is wrong. Today Mark Waid said Superman was his favorite hero because he had the power to rule the earth, but doesn't and instead helps the world because it is the right thing to do. In suffragette and civil right movements our heroes are those who stood against the status quo and would not follow the rules. Our founding fathers ignored the rule of law and stood up for what was the right thing.

This is all a prelude to the fact that when it comes to personal and professional situations doing the right thing and standing against the others who maybe wrong usually exacts a high cost. Often times in the government or corporate situations whistle blowers are only lauded by the people trying to attack the institution being reported on. Often this people are vilified and treated as outcasts by society at large, because now how can you trust a traitor. In a personal situation being right and trying to do the right thing often buys you trouble also. Even when proven right in the long term, people don't want to be reminded of the situation.

I know I have tried to do the right thing and have succeeded on occasion and there has been a price to pay for doing it (both in my personal and professional life). But no matter what I will always strive to do the right thing and be the maverick when called upon and pay the price. Because if I have learned nothing else from the comic heroes of my formative years there no option, we do the right thing regardless of the consequences. I just wish then in real life those people were lauded as well as they are in fiction.


  1. People rarely do the right thing anymore. We have become a horrible society that lives by the rule of "everybody else does it". People have become so into their own lives, so egocentric, that the plight of their fellow man doesn't matter to them except when they shell out a dollar for a Live Strong wristband or make a credit card donation to the victims of the latest disaster. I can't believe how heartless and selfconcerned people have become. Some examples---my father fell in the driveway a few years ago. He was on the ground, teeth chipped and bleeding, while the neighbors just drove by and did nothing to help him. I figure some 2 dozen cars went by before I went looking for my dad and found him prone on the ground. Also a few years back, I accidently set a tree on fire in my front yard. I had dumped the ashes from my BBQ under the Blue Spruce when the coals still had some heat to them. For the next 4 days, the base of the tree smoldered and burned, glowing a bright orange at night. The fourth night I finally noticed it and was able to save most of the tree(about 1/3 was a total loss). Where were the neighbors? Anyone driving by at night would have to have seen the bright orange glow covering a 7' x 8' area of the frontyard. Last example, the other day I was waiting in line at the drive-through mail drop. The lady in front of me had a box that wouldn't fit in the slot of the mailbox. So she jams in it, wedging it halfway in and halfway out so that no one else can get around it to get their mail in the box. Fucking bitch! Too concerned with getting on with her day to give any thought or consideration to others. I felt like ripping her box out and running it over with my car, but I think meddling with the mail is a federal offense.
    I have always lived my life trying to do what's right and helping others whenever I can. What shocks me is that others always tell me how remarkable and unique that is. I just figure it's what anyone would do. How is it going above and beyond to walk across the street and let your elderly neighbor know that they left their headlights on? Or to see that the elderly lady to your left forgot to turn off her hose and it was running all night so you go over and turn it off for her? Little things matter just as much as the big things.

  2. Hmm, I wonder if you get more cynical the older you get. I mean, I certainly have my more cynical moments... I have many of them, but at heart I still believe that most people have some good in them. In today's society (in America at least) we have promoted the good of the individual over the good of the many. We have made a world where those who help others 1. have a hard time doing the right thing and 2. are frequently discouraged from doing the right thing by several factors (not that I can explain some of the easy ones but I figuere after a point "minding your own business" becomes habit).

    Lets take some examples. First off, I can't even count the times I've gone out of my way to help someone only to be thanked with rudeness. As much as my many customer service jobs have left me somewhat uncaring at times I find that (for the most part) I still try to go out of my way to accomodate people. You may say this is my job in these situations - after all a host is supposed to go out of there way to make sure the customers are happy. I disagree. At the Cheesecake Factory my job was to get people seated at there tables as quickly and efficiently as possible. That was what was supposed to keep people happy. I remember this one time where we had and older woman (80-something) who was diabetic. All we were technically allowed to do was find a chair for her and give her some bread... it was a two hour wait and we weren't supposed to favor anyone. I ignored this rule and gave her a table as soon as possible because, I'm sorry, the woman wasn't doing well and needed to eat... not that I harbored any love for her relitives who had been willing to go on a two hour wait in the first place with no regards to their mother, but that's besides the point. Of course people complained. I got bitched at and told I had done the wrong thing. Personally, two hour wait or not, I wouldn't have minded one party being seated ahead of me. But here in selfish America people a habitually inconsiderate (btw, no one went over their wait time anyway). Of course when we had a celebrity come in, they got seated befoe the wait list. *rolls eyes*

    There are times when doing the right thing works out. André, my boyfriend, has a Clark Kent complex... right down to frequently helping people in need. It's funny too, because it always happens when he's wearing one of his Superman shirts. We were in the mall parking lot one time when we met a guy who's car wasn't working. We tried jumping it first and it didn't do anything. We realized that a tow truck wouldn't be able to get to the car where it was on the top floor of the parking garage so André helped the guy push it all the way out of the garage (I got to steer). The guy was incredibly grateful. Then there was the time our neighbor had her wallet stolen. She literally had no money with it gone and someone and hour away claimed to have found it but said the lady had to drive out there to pick it up. Since she didn't have a car there was nothign she could do. André and I drove her all the way out there and back - it took most of the night - but the lady was so happy to have her wallet back... not to mention the area the person who found it lived in was no place for an older woman to go at night by herself. André drove a pregnant woman home one day who had gotten stranded at the grocery store... she had been there so long without anyone to help her that she had tried to walk home (about 30 min by car) until André saw her and pulled over to ask if she needed help. I found a golden retriver that had been hit by a car (more than once by the looks of it) but that was still alive. André and I stayed with him until we found a vet who was willing to come help. Maybe his owners may never be grateful... but that poor dog was.

    More examples that the world still has people who care. When I lived in MD many people I knew had been helped by the mysterious Mexican brothers. These two guys drove aroung Columbia and Ellicott City during my senior year of hig school helping people whos cars had broken down by either jumping their car, pulling them off of the street, or offering the use of their phone. They always left as soon as they had helped and never stayed long enough to let anyone know who they were. But there were several stories about this happening over the year - my friend Liz met them when she had an accident with her car. Everyone described the guys and their beat up car the same way.

    During my second year of school my friend Nick and I were driving to campus when my tire hit something and tore. We pulled over to a tire place and the guys there told us they were closing and couldn't help us. So we stuggled with the tire ourselves for awhile (it had a key thing so the tires couldn't get stolen but I had no idea where mine was because I hadn't even knowen that my car had one) when a guy pulled over who had the same type of car and lent us his key and explained how to get the wheel off. We were extremely grateful but the guy left before we even learned his name.

    It's all too easy to become cynical and bitter... the hard thing is to continue to try and help people even if they are ungrateful or if no one helps you. I really believe that the people André and I have helped will be the ones more likely to go out of there way to help another. So maybe many people are weak and cynical or even frightened out of helping - but there are still good people out there and it's important to continue to try and do good.

  3. I have studied people for years and years and have witnessed the decline of willingness to help our fellow man/woman. Where it used to be true that people were inherently good, I now can prove that people are bad. Given the chance they will do the wrong thing. If they feel they can get away with it, that no one will see them do it, they will always do the wrong thing justifying it by saying, "Well, everyone else does it." Sad statement on American culture, but there it is. A new neighbor moves in. Used to be that they would be met by the neighborhood with treats and goodies. Now, no one even knows their neighbors or talks to them anymore. Community has lost it's meaning. Cell phones have destroyed small talk. Just ignore who you wish and yak on your phone incesently. Sad America. Hope things change soon.

  4. I don't things will change soon and I also think things will get worse before they get better.

    A lot of the "me first and only" attitude I believe comes from our leaders who are only interested in self aggrandizing and power. Also our legal system advocates a victimology in the US which creates a bunch of self centered whiny ass people. Also this legal system makes it harder to help someone for fear they sue you later on. Other examples of the decline of society reality shows, corporate power and the celebrity culture.

    Still I think that it will get better eventually (and after my time) because it's either that or the end of western civilization.

    It will be interesting to see how the internet, cell phones and their ilk will change the sense of community that used to be a foundation of our lives. Right now it feels to be for the worse, but I can't see the long term clearly yet.

  5. I think that to lose hope entirely is, in itself, a self-defeating attitude. Where there are still good people things can change - but if those people lose themselves to cynicism and hopelessness there will be no better tomorrow.

  6. Cshiana - hope springs eternal and my heart believes we can make things better today, but my head tells me that it will be worse before it gets better, but I never give up trying to make today better regardless of what my head says.